Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Warburton 'desperate for Lions win'

Sam Warburton will lead the British and Irish Lions out on Saturday

Captain Sam Warburton has underlined the burning desire of his British and Irish Lions to return home as Test series winners.

The quest to achieve a feat no Lions squad has managed since 1997 begins on Saturday against Australia at Suncorp Stadium. Wales flanker Warburton, at 24 one of the youngest skippers in Lions history, can already count a World Cup semi-final and Six Nations Grand Slam among his career achievements.

But he admits a Lions Test series triumph would represent one of rugby's most coveted prizes. "I think everybody is desperate to achieve," he said, after being named among eight Lions Test debutants for Saturday's opener.

"That is the one thing which you will see in the body language of every player for every game, because none of us has achieved a Lions Test series win and it's something you desperately want to have on your rugby CV.

"We've got Heineken Cup winners, Grand Slam winners, English Aviva Premiership winners, all these competitions, but nobody has ticked the Lions box. That is something which I think we will be pretty desperate in wanting to achieve. That's the one thing that will be a certainty in all three matches, the players' determination to get a result."

Warburton was just eight years old when the likes of Neil Jenkins, Scott Gibbs, Jeremy Guscott, Keith Wood and Martin Johnson helped steer the Lions to a series-clinching success over South Africa in Durban.

But it has proved a long time between drinks, with the Lions winning just two of 10 subsequent Tests played in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Warburton revealed he has not consulted any previous Lions captains on what it takes to win a Test series, adding: "Being captain this Saturday the fundamentals for me are exactly the same. Obviously the occasion is bigger, but I will treat it like I treat every other game.

"I wouldn't change what I do now. It would be too late and I think it would be the wrong thing to do, so I will approach it like every other game. I guess I've been thinking about it (Lions Test captaincy) for quite a while.

"Since the first (squad) announcement I felt I had a chance to do that, as long as I played well, so I guess I've been thinking about how it might feel for a while now. But I won't truly know until I do it. The last two games have been awesome, to lead the boys out, but I know it will be another level on Saturday."

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